The Impact of Federal Housing Policy on Housing Demand and Homeownership: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment
46 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 10, 2018
Federal housing policy promotes homeownership by subsidizing mortgage debt for many households with few assets and low credit scores. In this paper, we exploit the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA’s) surprise 50 basis point cut to its annual mortgage insurance premium in January 2015 to study the impact of federal housing policy and interest rates on housing demand for a population of households likely to be influenced by changes to policy. The premium cut, which reduced monthly payments the same amount as a three-quarter percentage point drop in the mortgage rate, increased the purchasing power of the typical FHA borrower by 6 percent. Our analysis suggests FHA borrowers increased the value of the housing they purchased by 2.5 percentage points relative to a control group of borrowers in areas with minimal FHA presence. The rise in spending reflected an increase in constant-quality home prices, with no significant change in the quality of housing purchased by FHA buyers. We also estimate that the premium cut induced approximately 17,000 households to become first-time homebuyers in the initial year after the cut, an increase that fell far short of the FHA’s projection. Because the rise in constant-quality house prices affected both FHA and other buyers in areas with substantial FHA lending, non-FHA first-time buyers as a group incurred a cost of $180,000 for each of the 17,000 new first-time FHA buyers.
Keywords: Housing Demand, House Values, Housing Policy, FHA
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